WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It might be easy to understand if Purdue is ready for this season to be over.
Their coach of four seasons, Darrell Hazell, was fired after a 49-35 homecoming loss to Iowa last month. They've lost every game since despite the energetic efforts of interim head coach Gerad Parker. The Boilermakers (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten) will end the season Saturday, win or lose, on the road against rival Indiana in the traditional Old Oaken Bucket game.
Parker says his team will be ready.
“They absolutely do have enough left, and you can't disregard that,” Parker said Tuesday. “I believe we have more to play for. We're all in. I know that on Sunday, our energy was the best it has been. In our Monday night practice, our guys ran around full of energy. They know what this is about. They know it's a rivalry game. We aren't going to have to ask our guys to play.”
Purdue has lost six in a row and has been outscored 276-141, an average of 46-23.5. The Boilermakers are tied for last in the nation in turnover margin at minus-18, including 23-8 in interception differential. Purdue is last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (allowing 39.4 points per game) and last in total defense (461.9 yards).
Toss in the fact Purdue has lost 16 consecutive games played in November and the uncertainty surrounding the head coaching position, and the situation appears daunting. A loss would give Purdue a 9-39 overall record in the past four seasons, including 3-30 in the Big Ten.
Sophomore quarterback David Blough leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game at 284.3 but also leads the conference in interceptions with 19 to go with 23 touchdowns. To say the least, it has been a difficult season for him.
“I have to do my job,” Blough said. “The turnovers are the same story, just different days. It's frustrating. We can't turn it over and expect to win a game. Last week (against Wisconsin) is gone, and now we're going to give Indiana everything we've got.”
Parker is 0-5 as the interim head coach — opponents have outscored Purdue 128-27 in the second halves of those losses — but he said he is proud of the fact the Boilermakers never failed to compete for him.
“Our players and coaches have kept everything in the locker room in order and have held each other accountable,” Parker said. “We had a great practice Monday night and plan to have great practices the rest of the week to get ready for a very good Indiana team.
“We have — in my opinion — just as much to play for as Indiana. It's about the legacy of our seniors and how we all want to leave this program.”